‘THE WORDS’ (2012)


When films leave little doubt as to the purpose of their script, it’s these that are a compelling sort of tale. Then there are those movies that plant doubt. In some sense, this is a story’s own worst enemy. The Words backs itself into a corner, one that may inspire thought, yet is ultimately more unsatisfying as not. Or is it?

The Words (2012) Film Review

Comfortable on best seller lists, Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) is reading his latest novel to a crowd of applause. In the crowd is Daniella (Olivia Wilde), a young grad student whose fascination with Clay leads to private conversations about the inspiration of his book. It’s a book that tells the story of a struggling writer named Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper). Married to his college sweetheart Dora (Zoe Saldana), Rory is to his limit following rejection after rejection until he finds an old manuscript in the folds of a bag his wife finds at an antique store. Reading the novel, Rory the story moves him. In these words is a novel he hopes to write, and he ends up copying the entire book, word-for-word.

Within months after its publication under Rory’s name, the book becomes an instant success and the book earns prestigious awards. But fame comes with a price, and Rory’s dreams seem to crumble when the truth comes out.  

Until I saw a friend’s recent mention of this, I’d completely forgotten it as something that made me curious. Contrary to what the synopsis implies, the story is a bit complicated. There ends up being three deliberate stories that try to co-exist. Whether or not they ever do is part of the reason the film brands itself more of a quandary than it should be. Admittedly, the frame is quite good. Telling a story by fictional narrative is interesting and offers new perspective. Early on, it pulls us into the plot; interested in what the narrative will mean.

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‘THE WORDS’ (2012). A man finds an old manuscript and tries to pass it off as his own to gain recognition. All text © Rissi JC

Possibly the best thing about the movie is its cast. We also see Jeremy Irons and Ben Barnes, each of whom, I thought turn in dynamite performances. Looking beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot to openly compliment. In a word, this entire movie is weak. Compacted into one package are three stories, none of which seem that genuine. There isn’t enough pizzazz for the film to be truly great.

There is the soldier who falls in love, experiences heartache and subsequently a life that falls apart. Clay Hammond has material success but borders on depression, and then there is Rory’s life who has the story most worth listening too. His ambition is where the most absorbing part of the script lies. Instead of owning up to the truth, looking his wife in the eye and righting a wrong, he permits the bad (wrong) to overwhelm the good (right).

Visionary in certain scopes of the “layered” drama, the ultimate message is one of sorrow. To top that off, the conclusion isn’t conclusive; it “feels” more like an artsy film than big-Hollywood and while I form an opinion of what the film wants to impart, there are other takeaways from its abrupt ending. In the end, no matter the accolades or wealth, truth should always be what taps us on the shoulder urging our conscious to do the right thing.

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You can find The Words digitally on Amazon Video

Content: There is one use of the f-word along with scattered other, more minor profanities [h*ll]. Married and unmarried couples passionately kiss in various states of undress and suggestive poses; comments are made to “making love” and a wife teases her husband that he’s “missing out” by continuing to work instead of coming to bed. A man gets drunk and there’s some social drinking. The film is PG13.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. Ah, shucks. I wanted this to be a good one. I may still rent it some day just because I like movies about writers, but I have a feeling I'll end up just as unsatisfied. Boo! :)

    1. It wasn't a "bad" movie, Melissa… just unfulfilling. That being said, I agree! I'm a sucker for movies about writing also and those bits were interesting. Do share what you thought once you see it as I'd love to hear. :)

  2. You know my opinion–I thought elements were left to be decided. I found it confusing at moments…..but I thought the acting was dynamic….so that's how I roll

    1. DEFINITELY, Ella. That ending was very "up in the air." I had an opinion of what the scope of the story was (or meant to be), but I don't think there was "just" one conclusion to reach. Ugh! That's the most annoying part of movies that end without real answers. Guess it's interesting just because it gets us thinking.

      The acting was EXCELLENT. Loved almost everyone in their respective roles. :)

    1. Shame on me! ;)

      Sorry about that, Birdie – you'd probably like this movie, actually. It's kind of a an artsy production; I didn't dislike it. Just… felt kind of empty at the end. It's really all in the interpretation of the story and some moviegoers will feel like it was more uplifting than "bad" and while I am not sure if that makes any sense, I do believe that's how best to describe the film.

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